J.C.S. Files: Telegram

The Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater ( Wilson ) to the Combined Chiefs of Staff 1


FX 24540 to AGWar for Combined Chiefs of Staff repeated to UK Base Section for British Chiefs of Staff, HQ Com Zone Main and SHAEF for information signed Wilson cite fhcos . This is Naf 778.

Subject is guidance on economic policy for Italy.

As battle line in Italy moves north and the operational phase in large portions of occupied territory is terminated, I feel that approach to problems of civilian supply and economic rehabilitation must be re-examined. While purely military considerations remain predominant [Page 416] in the forward areas, problems associated with civil administration, particularly of an economic character, raise general questions on which I, in my capacity as President of the Allied Control Commission, require guidance.
During the active operational phase, activities of an economic character conducted by the Allied Control Commission and other agencies in Italy under my command of necessity have been directly related to support of military operations. Supplies have been imported and distributed to the civilian population in order to minimize disease and prevent unrest, and efforts toward economic rehabilitation have had the primary, if not the exclusive, purpose of utilizing Italy’s resources for the war effort and producing in Italy goods which would otherwise have had to be imported.
In the light of the changed operational situation the limited directives which have governed seem no longer to be adequate. The Armistice agreement, under which the Allied Control Commission operates, contains no commitment to the Italian people as to any measure of material assistance. However, there has arisen in Italy the expectation, if not the assumption, presumably by reason of the known humanitarian policies of the two governments, that an additional measure of assistance and relief to the civil population would be forthcoming. Public utterances in both countries have tended to support this view. Moreover, if the two governments continue at this stage to consider only what is required in the interest of the war effort, they may lose the opportunity of ensuring one of their own long term interests, i.e., the establishment of a reasonably prosperous and contented Italy after the war. Notwithstanding this fact the standard of military necessity still obtains and in the provision of supply is being strictly adhered to. For example, a clothing programme was submitted in June ( Lac airgram 322) based on the estimated essential needs of the population this winter, but also having regard to the anti-inflationary effects of an increased supply of consumer goods. I am now asked, however, ( Cal 7382) to certify that this clothing is the minimum requirement to prevent disease and unrest which would prejudice military operations. As another example, not of great importance in itself but indicating the type of question which is now arising, in response to a requisition of paper essential for proper keeping of Italian tax records, it is asked ( Cal 5662) whether the paper is necessary “to control and manage the civil population.”
For the foregoing reasons I request that directives which govern the provision of civilian supply and economic rehabilitation be reexamined and that, if the policy of the governments is to furnish aid to Italy beyond that required by strict military necessity of the Allied [Page 417] Forces, the standards applicable to that aid be revised. In particular I request that I be informed:
To what extent, if any, I may take into account factors tending toward inflation, and to what degree I am responsible for measures to counter these tendencies.
To what extent, if any, is it desired that industrial rehabilitation in Italy be carried out and if any rehabilitation is intended what industries should be given precedence?
Within the limitations of available shipping, to what extent, if any, are exports to be stimulated and machinery to handle export trade developed?
If my revised directive gives me responsibilities in the economic field broader than those now existing, I may require additional personnel of suitable technical training and experience, presumably drawn more from civil than military ranks. I am, as I have already indicated, prepared to accept qualified civilian experts in major proportion in the Allied Control Commission as soon as they are available.
  1. Sent to the War Department at Washington; relayed to the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Quebec.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.